Recently, St. Louis County changed how it cares for pregnant women in county jails, recognizing that safety, justice and dignity are not incompatible. County Executive Sam Page signed an executive order adding a variety of protections for pregnant inmates. The order bans the use of shackling and provides for breastfeeding, nutrition and mental health support for pregnant and postpartum inmates.
In 2018, the administrations of Gov. Mike Parson and President Donald Trump took steps to ensure pregnant women in custody of federal institutions and Missouri’s Department of Corrections are treated with dignity, banning the use of shackles and restraints for pregnant women in their third trimester and delivery.
While I commend St. Louis County for doing the right thing, it’s really disappointing and concerning that we were unable to pass similar legislation in the Missouri 2019 legislative session to ensure these protections were available to all pregnant inmates across Missouri when it’s been outlawed at the state level and at the federal level.
I encourage the Legislature to extend these same protections to women in county justice systems across the state in 2020, and in the meantime ask that St. Louis City do what Jefferson City could not.
Mary Elizabeth Coleman • Arnold
Missouri state representative